Ardha Chandrasana is the Sanskrit name for this posture. The breakdown for the Sanskrit name is as follows, “Ardha” meaning “Half”, “Chandra” meaning “Moon”, “Asana” meaning “Pose”. “Chandra” is also known to mean “shining” or “glittering” but is most commonly translated as “Moon”. Interestingly, the moon has a unique connection to yoga.
One example of the moon’s connection to yoga can be found in the term “Hatha Yoga”. Hatha Yoga generally refers to the idea of yoga being used as a physical exercise. If the term “Hatha” is broken down into two parts, “ha” means “sun” and “tha” means “moon”. Naturally, some disagree and assert that “Hatha” translates to “effort” or “force” and that the sun and moon translation is a common mistake.
Moon or not, Half Moon Pose most certainly offers a wide range of health benefits. Some of these benefits include strengthening the legs, ankles, and core. This pose will also test and improve your balance and open your chest. As a mild inversion, it will also offer many basic inversion benefits.
Benefits Of The Pose:
As a standing yoga pose, Half Moon or Ardha Chandrasana will offer benefits that reach from your ankles to your chest. It would be fair to describe this pose as a full-body posture because of it’s plentiful and diverse benefits. These benefits include making the ankles, legs and core stronger, opening and stretching the chest, and lengthening the spine. In addition, as a mild inversion, Half Moon Pose will produce inversion benefits such as reversal of blood flow. Of course, this posture will also improve your balance and focus.
Strengthening your core and lower body will aid in protecting you from injury and the added strength will make other postures more accessible in your practice. A strong core and spine will do wonders for your overall back health and will certainly protect the back.
Although a mild inversion, this pose will allow you to benefit from the reversal of blood flow and from the fresh supply of blood and oxygen to the brain. Supplying the brain with this fresh dose of blood can help improve focus and concentration. Inversions can also help the spine to lengthen and decompress which can help to reduce spinal pain.
Perhaps the most enjoyable benefit is the simple challenge of balance and strength. Balance does require strength and this pose will allow the development of both assets. Most yogis find Half Moon to be a test, and therefore gain the satisfaction of conquering the posture over time.
Strengthens The Back
Stretches The Chest
Helps Improve Balance
Prep & Follow Up Poses:
Follow Up postures would include Revolved Triangle Pose, Wide Legged Forward Fold Pose, Tree Pose, and Mountain Pose. It’s also somewhat common to transition from Ardha Chandrasana to Warrior II Pose.
Modifications & Cautions:
This pose should be avoided if you’re experiencing leg or ankle injuries. Shoulder injuries could also be aggravated by Half Moon Pose.
Diarrhea, headaches, low blood pressure and sleeplessness are also good reasons to avoid this posture.
You should look forward instead of upward during this posture if you have a neck injury.
Make sure to consult your doctor before practicing if you have injuries or medical concerns.
If balance is an issue, you can practice this pose with your back against a wall or simply have someone spot you from behind.
Blocks can also be used to help balance or if you can’t reach the floor. Just place the block under your hand. You can select the best block height for your flexibility.
If it helps, you can also place your top hand on your hip until you’re ready to lift it upward.
Balance is key, work on building the needed core strength to help your balance.
Practice the pose with a wall or blocks until you’re ready to move into the middle of the room.
Imagine your back being flat against a wall as you practice the pose.
Keep your raised foot flat as if the bottom of the foot is pressed to the wall.
Look down instead of up if it helps your balance.
Keep your top hip pulled back and open.
Try not to lean forward during the pose. Instead, try to keep your raised leg, hip and torso in a straight line.
Keep your planted leg strong but don’t lock it to avoid possible injury or hyper extension.
Be patient and try to embrace the challenge of the pose if frustrating.
Practice this pose later in your practice after you’re warmed up.
Since Triangle Pose is the basic structure for Half Moon Pose, we will begin in Triangle, you can find Triangle Pose instructions here.
Let’s start with your left-hand fingertips on the floor or with your left hand resting on your left shin.
Your right hand should be lifted upward, lower it and place it on your right hip.
Make sure that your shoulders are stacked over top of one another and aligned, keep your right hip pulled back and try not to lean forward.
If you’re looking upward, turn your head to gaze toward the floor.
Slightly bend your left knee and step your right foot closer to your left foot, usually about 6 inches closer.
If your left hand is on your shin, move and place the fingertips on the floor.
Steady yourself and prepare to lift the right leg and foot.
Stabilize your left leg and then slowly start to straighten it as you raise your right leg and foot.
Try to lift the leg as high as your hip or a little higher.
Don’t lock your left leg, keep your left foot pointing forward.
Extend through your right foot, keep the foot flat as if against a wall.
Keep your hips aligned and stacked, imagine your back being flat against a wall.
If balance allows, raise your right hand from your hip and reach toward the sky, keeping your shoulders stacked and aligned.
Finally, if possible, turn your head to gaze upward toward your right hand.
Hold the posture for a few breaths.
On exhale, slowly lower your right foot to the floor and step back to Triangle Pose position.
You can then move forward to eventually work the other side of the pose.